Today's the day I'm wrapping up my Peru trip. Well, not the actual trip - I've been home for ages - just the drawn-out re-telling of it.
We left off in Cusco where half the group is flying to the Amazon basin, while the other half heads home.
We flew into a tiny airport in Puerto Maldonado, where porters took our luggage and spent a considerable amount of time cramming our luggage into and on top of a little bus. Then we boarded the bus for a short ride to the river. There we stood and watched as guys transferred our luggage from the bus down the steep riverbank to the back of a long skinny tippy boat. I felt like we should help. I’m always a bit uncomfortable when watching others do work I could easily do myself. In this case they were better equipped to carry big suitcases down steep slippery steps than I was, but often it’s just rolling suitcases into the hotel or airport. I actually prefer to take my suitcase myself; it’s got good wheels and is easy to maneuver and I like to know where it is. The problem is that the porters want the tips and I don’t want to take away their livelihood. Sometimes, no matter what amount we give them, they look hurt and ask for more. The tour guides tell us what an appropriate tip is, and warn us about not falling for their guilt tricks, but it still doesn’t feel good to walk away feeling like you may have cheated them.
It’s a 45-minute boat ride to the lodge on the Madre de Dios River. We are not on the actual Amazon River; we are in the Amazon Basin. This river eventually runs into the Amazon. It’s brown and dirty-looking, but it’s actually silt. There are kids swimming in the river and (illegal) machines set up to siphon gold from the bottom of the river. Occasionally we see a house, lodge or another boat on the river, but it’s pretty remote. I was starting to get worried about where exactly we were heading, when we finally reached our destination.
The worry was unnecessary. This place (Amazonica Reserva Inkaterra) was amazing – it felt like I was on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It was rustic, yet luxurious. We slept in screened cabanas that let in light and air and the sounds of the jungle. Since it was an eco-friendly resort, the electricity was shut off for several hours a day. We ate our meals in the main lodge, sitting on tree stump chairs (the level of comfort did not match the cool look), eating delicious food by candlelight.
|This drink was called "The Treehouse" and came complete with burning embers (?) on the side.|
|One of the many sitting areas inside the main lodge|
|View from my bed|
|There was a folding privacy screen that was put up at night when they came to put the mosquito nets down at night. The cabana was lit with kerosene lamps and was so beautiful and cozy at night, with the sounds of the jungle all around,|
There were different excursions to choose from throughout the day; my choices were a night boat ride, a hike in the rainforest to a lake where we canoed, a canopy walk, and a night walk in the jungle. We didn’t see as many animals as I thought we would. Even the birds, heard constantly and loudly, were elusive. We did spot some birds including parrots, monkeys, lizard, a family of giant otters, agouti (looks like a giant rat, but with longer legs) and a tarantula. Oh, and ants. The guide was pumped about all the leafcutter ants, but I can see ants at home. I was hoping for an anaconda.
I’m going to let the pictures speak their thousand words each. All I will say is that it was even more beautiful in real.
|You could stay in this little treehouse over night for a pretty penny (I can't find the price online but the guide told us it was $$). When it's rented out, they hoist up mattresses and other necessities. There's no running water - only a bucket for a toilet and a jug of water to wash with. The "dining room" is a short swinging-bridge walk away - also high up in the treetops; a chef comes to cook for you.|
|Sadly, the only snakes we saw were in a jar.|
|It poured one afternoon, as it should in the rainforest. Shortly after the rain stopped, we watched a beautiful outdoor wedding of two staff members; I guess they know how to time these things.|
And then it was over. It really was an awesome trip. It got off to a rocky start with news of the death of a traveller’s family member, followed by the missing-the-plane incident. But thankfully after the first day, the worst was over. I don’t mind the smaller hiccups. It was a fantastic group and because of our shorter days, it was fun and relaxing to hang out with them. There are all kinds of different personalities but somehow it works! On all the trips so far, we've had awesome groups. There are always some people I love more than others, but everyone is there to have a good time and travelling with a group is way more fun than I thought it would be.
I think you should all see for yourself on The Chamber’s next trip to China in April. You won’t regret it! I am not personally going on that trip because I’m going to Croatia a couple of weeks later, but one of my co-workers will be hosting it. The Croatia trip is full at the moment, but we’ve got a waiting list in hopes that more spots open up (which is entirely possible). You can check out the Chamber trips here (India & Dubai, anyone?).
Okay, I'm done with the sales pitch and the trip updates - now it's back to regularly scheduled life.